The Art of Ruth E. Carter: Costuming Black History and the Afrofuture, from Do the Right Thing to Black Panther
The definitive, deluxe art book from costume design legend Ruth E. Carter.
Ruth E. Carter is a living legend of costume design. For three decades, she has shaped the story of the Black experience on screen—from the ’80s streetwear of Do the Right Thing to the royal regalia of Coming 2 America. Her work on Marvel's Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever not only brought Afrofuturism to the mainstream, but also made her the first Black winner of an Oscar in costume design and the first Black woman to win two Academy Awards in any category. In 2021, she became the second-ever costume designer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In this definitive book, Carter shares her origins—recalling a trip to the sporting goods store with Spike Lee to outfit the School Daze cast and a transformative moment stepping inside history on the set of Steven Spielberg's Amistad. She recounts anecdotes from dressing the greats: Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Chadwick Boseman, and many more. She describes the passion for history that inspired her period pieces—from Malcolm X to What's Love Got to Do With It—and her journey into Afrofuturism.
Carter's wisdom and stories are paired with deluxe visuals, including sketches, mood boards, and film stills. Danai Gurira, beloved for her portrayal of Okoye in Black Panther, has contributed a foreword. Fans will even get a glimpse behind the scenes of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
At its core, Carter's oeuvre celebrates Black heroes and sheroes, whether civil rights leaders or Wakandan warriors. She has brought the past to life and helped us imagine a brighter future. This book is sure to inspire the next generation of artists and storytellers.
MAJOR ICON: Ruth E. Carter is behind some of the most iconic costumes on screen, not least the opulent Black Panther looks that won her two Academy Awards for Best Costume Design. She's worked with some of the biggest names in cinema, from Spike Lee to Ava DuVernay. Her popularity goes beyond those interested in fashion and film—she is also a role model for women of color and creative entrepreneurs.
INCREDIBLE VISUALS: This gorgeous book includes an amazing array of images. Film stills reveals the details that make Carter's costumes so special. Sketches and mood boards illuminate her artistic process and the way she collaborates with actors, directors, and fellow crew members. This book is a feast for the eyes.
COMPELLING STORY: Taken as a whole, Carter's three-decade career is not just a collection of great films; it tells a story. Whether comedies or period pieces, biopics or superhero blockbusters, her films have shaped the narrative of the Black experience in American cinema.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER: Fans will love seeing behind the scenes of the original Black Panther and the sequel, discovering the artistry and passion that went into creating Wakanda.
- Fans of Ruth E. Carter, Black Panther, Spike Lee, and all the icons of Black Hollywood
- Art, fashion, and film students
- Young women and Black creatives looking for inspiration
- Followers of Hollywood fashion trends and devotees of costume and clothing design
- Film buffs building their coffee table book collection
Praise for The Art of Ruth E. Carter: Costuming Black History and the Afrofuture, from Do the Right Thing to Black Panther
“In this stunning blend of backstage memoir and portfolio, Carter recounts her unexpected journey from actress to theater costume assistant and her life-changing encounter with a young director named Spike Lee. Tasked with designing his second film, School Daze, Carter drew on her eye for creative detail, deep grounding in history, adventurous sense of color and texture, and dizzying work ethic. Carter and Lee collaborated on nine more films…. While it was the Black Panther movies that brought her wide popular acclaim, she reveled in her historical films, which allowed her to revisit family stories and to delve into period photography and poetry.” —Booklist Starred Review
“This definitive work makes visible the thought, care, and skill required of a successful film costumer…. Numerous anecdotes featuring well-known actors and filmmakers are woven throughout this conversational narrative. This book reveals the processes, including historical and cultural research and technical know-how, behind Carter’s most famous works…. The author comes across as the storyteller she is, both with her costumes and her words…. The pages are filled with fascinating original illustrations, stunning photographs, and eye-catching stills highlighting Carter’s artistry in full, glorious color.” —Library Journal Starred Review